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How would a philosopher cross a crowded room?

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In a separate discussion, I came across this brilliant (if I say so myself) analogy for capturing various philosophers’ attitudes.

Here is the situation. You are in a crowded room, and you want to cross the room to get to the bar (for a ginger ale, of course). A philosopher is next to you. What advice does he give?

Socrates: “Obviously, nothing is more important than getting to the bar. Why do all these people seem to ignore what is most important? Let us berate them for their foolishness, and convince them that they should be moving toward the bar.”

Hegel: “The crowd is actually a line for the bar. Just be patient and stay in your place.”

Nietzsche: “Let’s creep along the wall, and fantasize about the one who will be able to leap over the crowd.”

Epictetus (the Stoic): “Don’t want to go to the bar. Want to stay where you are.”

Thoreau: “Let’s go out the window and go around.”

Christianity (according to Nietzsche): “Convince everyone that the bar is evil; that should clear the way for us!”

Buddha: “The bar is within you.”

Add more as you like!



  1. Mike says:

    Huenemann: “You know, it looks like Socrates and Nietzsche are on this side of the room, I think I’ll stick around here. Are you sure you want to go over to the bar?”

    Heide^H^H^H^H^HKleiner: “Now would going over to the bar be an autonomous free act for authentic resolute Dasein or is the thirst simply a product of the they?”

    Aquin^H^H^H^H^HKleiner: “The best way to understand the bar is to consider first what it is not.”

    Wittgenstein: ” ”

    ^H = Backspace


  2. Doug says:

    Mel Gison & Heidegger: “Avoid the bar, since the Jews may own the alcohol!”

    (Ok, so its not so philosophical, but I find it slightly humourous)


  3. Doug says:

    whoops, I spelled Mr. Braveheart Gibson’s name Gison.


  4. Huenemann says:

    Nice additions, Vince and Doug! I particularly like Prof. Mike’s.


  5. Huenemann says:

    Oh, and Mike’s additions are good, too; that does sound like Huenemann!


  6. Mike says:

    I’d like to append “Besides, I just brewed a batch of homebrew with some friends, an IPA. Want some?”


  7. Kleiner says:

    Plato – That bar there will come to be and pass away. We will arrive at the real, eternal Bar not by walking, but through dialectic.

    Zeno – We will never get to the bar, as doing so would require us traversing an infinite number of midpoints on the way.

    Augustine – Go to a bar? Are you crazy? I feel guilty as hell over sneaking a few pears!!

    Hume – Why go to the bar? Just because, in the past, I have been able to get a drink there gives me no reasonable guarantee that I’ll be able to get a drink there this time.

    Pascal – Either we make it to the bar or we don’t. If we do make it to the bar, we will have a great time sharing spirits. If we don’t make it to the bar, we will have wasted a little effort pushing through the crowd. I wage that it is worth risking it.

    Sartre – Hell is other people, so why would I want to go to a bar?


  8. Mike says:

    Shakespeare: “To bar or not to bar, that is the question.”

    James: “A genuine experience of the bar is inexplicable yet formative and in a certain percentage of the population can be experienced with the aid of ginger ale. In any case the profound nature of these sorts of experiences is hard to dismiss. As psychologists, we should probably go over there and get some ginger ale.”

    Montaigne (while reserving ultimate judgment): “To best guarantee our access to the ginger ale, let’s ask Socrates and all these other philosophers to get us some AND we should call in an order of ginger ale AND head over there directly AND…”

    Descartes: “Before we can figure out how to go to the bar we need to free our minds of everything except that which we cannot doubt.” <– never makes it to the bar


  9. Huenemann says:

    These are great! But I think James’s has to be punchier. Something like: “Life is short and my throat is parched. Let us march on! For even if we do not make the bar, it is the difference the march will make to our lives that will make this party burst into significance!”


  10. Mike says:

    You’re right, I failed to capture his broader sentiment. I haven’t read him except for reference for years.

    Seneca (while sneaking ginger ale on the side): “Want not the bar, instead turn your gaze toward the divine.”


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